ITUC letter:GP termination violates rights

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has sent letter to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Grameenphone Tore Jonhson and Telenor Group Managing Director Jon Fredrik Baksaas terming the ongoing termination process illegal.

In its letter, ITUC mentioned that the en masse termination is violating the basic rights of Grameenphone employees.

ITUC also sent the copies of the letter to Labour and Employment Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Major General ( Rtd.) Zia Ahmed and director of International Labour Organization (ILO) Andre Bagui.

Regarding the issue, GP chief communications officer Kazi Monirul Kabir told banglanews, “I know nothing about the issue.”

In his letter, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, “On behalf of over 175 million workers around the world we write to express our concern regarding alleged labour rights violations at Grameenphone. Telenor currently maintains a 55% ownership stake in Grameenphone (GP). In 2011, GP made a profit of roughly 200 million BDT, up 76% from the previous year. This year, however, GP put into place a retrenchment plan to downsize its workforce.”

“We acknowledge that firms may have to restructure from time to time, but we are concerned that the manner in which the restructuring has been carried out may violate the Bangladesh Labour Act of 2006,” the letter added.

The letter stated, “Indeed, the plan appears to target workers with seniority in the company as well as discriminate against those who have supported the formation of a union at GP. Further, we are troubled that GP appears to be resisting the formation of a trade union by promoting a non-union participation committee as an alternative, which has no power to negotiate the terms and conditions of work.”

Section 20 of the Bangladesh Labour Act of 2006 sets forth the rules for retrenchment of redundant workers. It provides that any worker with at least one year of service must receive at least one month’s written notice explaining the reasons for the retrenchment (or payment in lieu of notice), that a copy has been sent to the Chief Inspector, and that such worker is paid the higher of 30 days’ wages or gratuity for every year of service.

The letter added: “GP is reportedly pressuring workers to resign and receive enhanced compensation or face termination and receive standard compensation. These workers include more senior employees, officers and members of the GP union and even some women workers on maternity leave. the dismissal of workers who are the officers of the trade union being formed or who are promoting the formation of a trade union violates Section 195 of the Labour Act.”

Meanwhile, world`s largest trade union federation has expressed its deep concern over the entire situation saying that concern over GP’s retrenchment policy has been raised not only by the affected workers but also by the government.

On July 18, 2012, the parliamentary Standing Committee on the Labour and Employment Ministry denounced Grameenphone for the retrenchment of its employees and recommended that the company abide by the labour law. Previously, the National Human Rights Commission called a hearing on the matter on July 7, to which GP failed to appear as requested.

In June, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission also raised concerns with the retrenchment and asked GP for an explanation.

News Source: